Aura is a new home alarm system created by Cognitive Systems, based out of Waterloo Ontario. Aura is a different kind of home alarm system. Cognitive Systems say that with Aura only two pieces of equipment can protect a 2500 sq ft home. Aura is definitely different from traditional alarm systems. The question though is how does Aura work and is it a better home alarm solution?
Aura does not have motion detectors and door contacts. Instead, Aura monitors the change in spectrum inside a home. Noise changes alter the spectrum in the home. This then sends invisible ripples throughout the area. Aura will pick up these "ripples" and will trigger the alarm.
Cognitive Systems says Aura was created for two reasons. The first is they claim this technology is perfect for people concerned about privacy. A camera inside your home can (with very low likelihood) be hacked. This way someone can see inside the home. Aura lends itself to privacy-focused individuals, as what would a hacker hack? They'd see lines of data. Changes of ripples. Not streaming video.
The second reason is they say that traditional home alarm systems have equipment that can lead to false alarms frequently. According to Cognitive System staff, this system should have less false alarms. Plus they say that traditional alarms need lots of equipment to protect a home. Aura though can protect with just two pieces of equipment.
Here's a recent CBC report on Aura: http://bit.ly/2oQz3PU
We got a chance to see the Aura system at a recent trade show, ISC West. Here are our thoughts on it.
We liked how the Aura system looked. Nice and clean with only two pieces of equipment. We also thought the concept was interesting. However, there are many issues with Aura by Cognitive Systems.
First, while it seems like an easy solution for home security, the premise is inherently flawed. In regards to privacy, if the homeowner doesn't want a camera in their home, they don't need one. Nest Cam, Canary, and Ring.com are security solutions that rely on a camera. These systems are based on a camera. The vast majority of alarms though don't require a camera to work. For example, Think Protection's systems do not. A camera can be added, but it's simply an additional service/piece of equipment. It's not the base. With a cameraless traditional home alarm, privacy should not be a concern. It's no different than Aura. So thus this point is a non-issue when you compare apples to apples.
Second, looking at traditional alarm equipment, there are few false alarms. PIR's (motion detectors) rarely will trigger without actual movement. Aura currently cannot work with a pet in the home. A pet-friendly motion detector can. A properly installed motion detector is the best way to protect a home. Bar none.
Third, with new DIY home alarm systems, the installation has never been easier. For example, you can install a Think Protection Standard Package system in less than 30 minutes. Everything is wireless and requires no drilling. Anyone can do it. Think Protection staff walks you through it over the phone. Plus they make sure everything is up and running properly. So while Aura by Cognitive Systems may be easy to install, so are other alarms. With that said, the argument by Cognitive Systems doesn't hold water.
Remember that not all DIY alarms are as easy to install as Think Protection. Frontpoint and Protect America take longer to install. However, they still can be installed by non-experts.
Last we have to look at the price. Aura is expected to retail for $500 (plus tax). A base package by Think Protection consisting of 1 door contact, 1 motion detector, 1 pinpad retails for $299.99 (plus tax). Additional motion detectors cost $49.99. A 2500 sq foot home will typically need only 2 to 3 motion detectors to protect your home. So the cost of all equipment with a traditional home alarm is far less than $500. Plus you can continue to add as necessary with a Think Protection alarm. With Aura, you'll have to buy a second Aura system.
With Aura by Cognitive Systems, it may look cool and clean but it can't compare with a traditional home alarm system. Aura solves a problem that doesn't exist. It's an expensive security solution that may sway some people who are looking at Nest Cam, Ring.com or Canary. But anyone looking for a real home security solution should go with a real home alarm system. One that uses motion detectors and door contacts.